Pickled (OK……Technically Fermented) Okra Recipe

Last year we did not plant a garden so when it came time to pickle some okra we had to pay for it like most of you would have to do. Luckily enough this year our okra has grown and grown so we’re overrun with it! I kid you not the okra stalk is thicker than my wrist and at least 7 foot tall!!

When we made up our pickled okra last year we were able to sell it at market and the local grocery store. It sold out every time the shelves were restocked. Today I’m giving up my secret (not really) recipe for the pickled okra we make each year.

I apologize in advance for the pictures (or lack there of). When these pictures were taken this blog didn’t exist.

Emily’s Pickled (OK……Technically Fermented) Okra

Yield: four 1-quart jars

Equipment Needed:

  1. four 1-quart canning jars with lids and bands (preferably wide-mouth)
  2. stock pot or canning pot (with lid)
  3. stock pot for brine solution
  4. sauce pot for lids
  5. kitchen towel or canning rack
  6. tongs or jar lifter
  7. magnetic lid lifter
  8. kitchen towel for cooling jars
  9. funnel (optional)

Ingredients Needed:

  1. whole fresh okra, thoroughly washed (I don’t have a specific amount because we always just fry up whatever is leftover but I’d say you need at least a half bushel or maybe more depending on the size of the okra)
  2. cabbage, cut into ¼” to ½” pieces (shouldn’t need more than ¼ of a head, I use the leftover for coleslaw)
  3. whole garlic cloves, at least 8 (I use more)
  4. four quarter-sized grape leaves (I’ve used muscadine leaves, if this is not available you can substitute ½ teaspoon of alum powder to each jar)
  5. dried chile peppers, at least 12 (may decrease or increase number depending on how spicy you want your okra)
  6. fresh dill (may substitute dried dill seed, 1 teaspoon per jar)
  7. whole peppercorns (I don’t measure them, just toss a few into each jar)
  8. 13 cups of water
  9. ⅔ cup pickling salt

Directions:

  • Fill a canning pot with rack or kitchen towel lined stock pot with water. Bring to a full rolling boil. This water will be used to process your jars once filled. It should have enough water to completely cover the jars once they are placed inside. I’d start with the pot ½ to ⅔ full. You can always add or remove water later. This part will take a while so you may want to start boiling the water in advance.
  • In a different stock pot, place the pickling salt and the 13 cups of water. Bring to a boil. This will be the brine solution. 
  • Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water and place on to boil. Once boiling add your canning lids, not the bands. Let boil for about 10 minutes then turn off the heat.
  • Starting with clean canning jars. I prefer wide mouth because it’s easier to get your hand in them to cram in okra but regular mouth works too.
  • Place either a grape leaf or ½ teaspoon of alum powder in the bottom of each jar.
  • Add a clove or two of garlic. If you really like garlic you can always add more than the recipes calls for. The spice mix can be customized.
  • Add a layer of cabbage pieces.
  • Add 1-2 dried peppers to each jar.
  • If you’re using fresh dill, add a sprig to the bottom of the jar too. If not, don’t worry we’ll add the dried dill seed later.
  • Cram as many okra into the jars as possible. I layer them stem up, stem down, stem up, stem down around the edge of the jar while I’m holding it at an angle trying to keep the okra length consistent as possible. Once that’s done I stick some of the smaller ones on top. You’ll need to pack them in a tightly as you can. Just remember to leave a little space for the rest of the stuff.

 

Pickled Okra - Filling Jars

 

Your jars should look something like this.

  • Top the jars off with the remainder of the garlic cloves and dried chile peppers.
  • Add another sprig of fresh dill (or the 1 tsp dill seed) and a few peppercorns. If you want to can add another piece or two of cabbage. We want it to look pretty and colorful!
  • Now that the jars are filled with all the okra and goodies, carefully top them off with the brine. Leave about ⅛” to ¼” headspace. (Headspace is just the amount of space you leave between the lid and the top of the liquid.)
  • Using the magnetic lid lifter, lift the boiled lids out of the water and carefully place on the jar. Secure with a band. It just needs to be tightened to “fingertip” tightness. You don’t need it so tight you can’t get the band off later.
  • Place the filled jars into the canner or stock pot that you’ve had boiling on the stove. (Very important reminder!! If you’re using a stock pot instead of a canner don’t forget to place a kitchen towel in the bottom before you place the jars inside. If you forget this step you’ll only end up with broken jars!) Place a lid on the pot.
  • Process (boil) the filled jars for 15 minutes at a full rolling boil. You may need to wait until the pot comes back to a boil before beginning the timer.
  • Once the time is up, carefully remove the jars from the pot using a jar lifter or a set of tongs. They’ll be hot so be very careful. Place the jars on a towel in a place where they won’t be disturbed for at least 24 hours.
  • As the jars cool you’ll hear them “pop”. This is the lid sealing to the jar.
  • After they are completely cooled check the seals by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the lid pops back or gives it didn’t seal. That’s OK you’ll just need to store that one in the fridge. Remove the band on all the jars that successfully sealed and place them somewhere they won’t be disturbed. 
  • Now for the hard part…..these need to ferment for AT LEAST 6 weeks. 8 weeks is even better.

Pickled Okra - Finished Product

These jars were just filled and waiting to be processed in the canner.

The liquid in the jars will get slightly cloudy and turn a yellow shade. The okra will change from a bright green to a darker green. That’s all completely normal! The okra will also float towards the top of the jar……also normal. Once sufficiently fermented allow a jar to chill in the fridge then pop the lid and enjoy!

Keep the canning up and you’ll have a “winter” stock built up that looks like this!

 
Full Shelves

 

FYI: I’ve also used this exact same recipe to make dill pickles. The only difference is you’ll substitute the okra for small pickling cucumbers, either sliced into ¼” to ½” disks, spears or whole. All the other ingredients and measurements are exactly the same.

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